Former MLA Boken Ete no more

ITANAGAR, Jan 9: Boken Ete, one of the first MLAs from the then Along South assembly constituency, passed away on 8 January. He was over 100 years old.
Born to late Kigam Ete and Mima Ete on 1 March, 1922, in Bene village in the present West Siang district, late Boken Ete was among the first-generation leaders of the state and a much respected personality of the undivided Siang division.
He started his career during the British regime as an agency labour corps (ALC) member in 1944, and was promoted as peon in 1945, as political interpreter (PI) in 1946, as head PI in 1953, as base superintendent in 1961, and as political assistant in 1963. He went on to become an MLA when the state held its first assembly election in 1978.
Ete was awarded the Assam Governor’s Earthquake Relief Fund Medal in 1950 for his tireless relief work during the great earthquake of 1950. He was also awarded the Assam Governor’s Commendation Certificate in 1958, and the Lt Governor’s Commendation Certificate in 1978.
Chief Minister Pema Khandu expressed grief over the demise of the former MLA.
In a condolence letter to Ete’s family, Khandu wrote: “A first generation leader, late Boken Ete was a living legend of the Siang belt.”
“Late Boken Ete was instrumental in establishment of the Ramakrishna Mission School in Aalo in 1966, and the VKV Jirdin in 1980. He was the main leader who led the villagers of various villages during the construction of the Along (Aalo)-Likabali road in 1958-59,” Khandu said.
Describing Ete as “the strongest bridge connecting Galos and Adis,” the CM said the late MLA had helped in strengthening the Keba system. “Besides, he was responsible for popularizing wet rice cultivation in the 1960s. He tirelessly worked to end the slavery system prevalent in the tribal society in late 1950s,” Khandu said.
“Late Ete constantly encouraged women empowerment, whether through modern education or financial independence. He was also instrumental in propagating and conserving the indigenous faith, Donyi-Poloism. When there were no police, magistrate or judge and administration had limited reach, he led from the front to maintain law and order, and thus helped in establishment of rule of law in nascent evolving society,” the CM said.
He also recalled Ete’s crucial role in establishment of Aalo as the headquarters of the undivided Siang division in the early 1950s.
“He also marshalled the public for the construction of the ALG in Aalo in the early 1950s, which was amply used during the 1962 Chinese aggression. He led the construction of the road from Aalo to Silapathar by engaging the villagers on self-help basis back in late 1950s,” Khandu said, adding that Ete constantly upheld the age-old good relations with Adis, Membas and other sub-tribes and clans of West Siang district.
Expressing sincere condolences to the bereaved family, the CM prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul.
Governor BD Mishra also termed Ete’s demise a great loss.
In his condolence message, the governor said, “Late Boken Ete, a prominent former member of the state legislative assembly, was an eminent social reformer who opposed slavery and social exploitation. He promoted communal harmony, indigenous culture and school education. Among many of his valuable services to the society, late Boken Ete will always be remembered for his contributions in the establishment of the Ramakrishna Mission School, Aalo, and the Vivekananda Kendriya Vidhyalaya, Jirdin.”
Mishra prayed to the almighty to bestow strength on the bereaved family to bear the irreparable loss.
Former chief minister Gegong Apang has also expressed deep sorrow over the demise of the former MLA. In a message, Apang paid rich tributes to Ete, and remembered him as a friend, guide and philosopher.
“After having heard the news of the unfortunate demise of Boken Ete (ex-MLA), it gave me sudden shock and surprise. In this connection, I would like to pay my respectful tribute to the deceased. Particularly for me, Boken Ete was like a friend, philosopher and guide. He was not an ordinary human being,” Apang said.
Recalling Ete as a “great humanist, social reformer and great political thinker,” Apang said, “We should remember that although he started his early life as a political interpreter in the British regime, he continued after India’s independence too. After that he joined politics and was elected as a member of the legislative assembly in INC.”
The former CM also termed Ete’s demise a colossal loss for the state.
“His death has caused not only a colossal loss but has also created a big vacuum. The void created by him will not be filled so easily,” Apang said.
Paying heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family, he prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul, and for strength to the family members.
Legislative Assembly Speaker PD Sona expressed deep shock and grief over the demise of Ete.
In his condolence message, the speaker said Ete was “one of the pioneers in the history of Arunachal politics who immensely contributed towards the development of the state.”
“His contributions to the society will always be remembered,” the speaker said. He conveyed heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and prayed to the almighty for eternal peace of the departed soul.
The Arunachal Pradesh Youth Congress (APYC) has also mourned the demise of the late leader.
In a condolence message, APYC president Geli Ete said, “Boken Ete was one of the tallest figures of the state, a great philanthropist and leader who contributed in shaping the present day Arunachal Pradesh. He brought Ramakrishna Mission School in Aalo for educating villagers and VKV Jirdin for girls’ education and various other social reforms for the uplift of society. His contributions will be always remembered by the people of the state.”
MLA Lombo Tayeng also deeply mourned Ete’s demise.
“Words seem inadequate to express our sadness over the demise of Boken Ete, who was one of the foremost and most influential leaders of the then undivided Siang district,” Tayeng said in his condolence message.
Aalo-based Kargu Kardi Welfare Society has also extended heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family, and prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul. (CM’s PR Cell, Speaker’s PR Cell, Raj Bhavan, DIPRO)